Sheehan chasing Open dream

JUST after midnight tonight, Coffs Harbour product Paul Sheehan will tee off at Carnoustie as one of 20 Australians trying to win the coveted Claret Jug trophy awarded to the winner of the British Open.

Playing with Jon Bevan and American Boo Weekely, the 30-year-old will try to turn around what has been a disappointing season for him on tour.

Matt Allan, the head professional at Coffs Harbour Golf Club is a good friend of Sheehan's and it may have been with a touch of bias that he summed up his mates chances of winning the major.

"'Sheeho' for sure, he's a special," he said with a laugh.

If there's one encouraging sign that Allan can hang his hat on for his bold prediction, it was Sheehan's early form at the recent Travelers Championship in Connecticut on the USPGA Tour.

"He nearly got in the lead there at one stage but he missed the cut with a horror back nine," Allan explained.

"He got it to six-under and seven-under was leading and it was like 'hello, here we go' but then he shot something like 45 on the back nine.

"It looks as if his ball striking might be a bit off because his stats for hitting greens in regulation are down."

It was a couple of years ago that Stuart Appleby was asked in a press conference prior to a major what he thought he had to shoot to win the tournament?

Appleby's simple response was 'Tiger Woods' and Allan agrees.

"That's exactly right, he's just a special around there I reckon," he said.

"The only other blokes that I can see are probably Ernie Els as he's in a bit of form and Phil Mickelson also."

Of the Aussies, Allan says that there are a few chances of grabbing a win besides Sheehan.

"I'd say that Robert Allenby and Stuart Appleby are overdue," Allan said.

"Appleby has been close in a couple of British Opens and then you've got Aaron Baddeley if he putts well. He hits the ball low as well so he might be a bit of a special."

Sheehan will be teeing off tonight 15 minutes after midnight while tomorrow his group will be on the first tee at 7.04pm



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